Kolby Smith, Ronnie Fouch pleased to be at Arkansas

By Otis Kirk
on 2024-03-28 12:37 PM

FAYETTEVILLE — For the first time since being hired by Sam Pittman and Bobby Petrino, Kolby Smith and Ronnie Fouch met with the media on Thursday.

Smith is in charge of the running backs while Fouch coaches the wide receivers. Smith replaces Jimmy Smith and last coached the Miami Dolphins before joining Pittman’s staff. Smith talked about how he ended up with the Razorbacks.

“I’m sorry, but my voice may be gone a little bit,” Smith said. “Once Coach Smith left, I received a text from Coach (Petrino) saying ‘Hey, there may be an opening.’ And then he said ‘I can get you on the phone with Coach Pittman, and you’ve just got to sell yourself from there.’ I was able to get on the phone with coach and we had a great conversation.

“One of the first things he wanted to know was, was I a good man or not? The Xs and Os part wasn’t the first. It was more of are you a good man? Are you a family man? Are you going to love these kids? These are our core values. And that was that. I know he called some other guys and interviewed them and then he called me that night and told me I was hired and I was here the next day. Sorry my voice is gone.”

Fouch, who came from Missouri State, took Kenny Guiton’s place and like Smith he has coached with Petrino previously.

“I was on Christmas break at my sister’s house and Coach Petrino reached out to me,” Fouch said. “Kind of a similar situation. Got a chance to get on Zoom with Coach Pittman and was very impressed with him from the get-go. I just knew I wanted to work obviously at a higher level here, but just work for him as a head coach. He seemed like a great family man, like Coach (Smith) said. Just his core values are what I believed in. He asked me about what I believe in as a coach and teacher, what kind of drills and philosophies as far as the position. But like he said, it was a lot more of just getting to know me and who I was as a person, and that’s what I respected about being hired by Coach Pittman.”

Fouch coached under Petrino at both Louisville and Missouri State. He admits Petrino has had a big influence on him.

“Yeah I mean, he’s been one of the most influential guys as far as my coaching career and teaching me the game,” Fouch said. “Especially the other side of the ball and how to attack defenses and from the top down, the details of the program, the offense. That’s what he feels like separates our offense from the pack is just the little things and how we teach the details of the offense.”

Smith played for Petrino at Louisville and then coached under him at both Western Kentucky and Louisville.

“For me, outside of the coaching part, I’m just grateful that he believes in me,” Smith said. “He cares for who I am and the family that I have and the trust. Obviously I played for him, so it’s a little deeper, just him believing in me as a person. Inviting me to become a coach, so that’s where that love for him comes. More than that, I’m excited to be here working under Coach Pittman, he’s a great guy, love being around him, love his energy. You can’t have a better coach to play for.”

It has been very noticeable in practice that Fouch is a great communicator with his players. He went into more detail on the reasoning for that.

“Just a little bit of Coach Pittman and Coach Petrino empowering me to run the show, run the offense just having that experience with the system with me and Coach Smith,” Fouch said. “Now with him out there, it’s a lot more help and he knows the offense, we both coached together and just feeding off each other out there, but it’s just the urgency right now. We got to get better every day and just the urgency of the install, trying to get better from there. Wanting to get guys to the right spots, just an experience thing of what we’re used to.”

Some have insisted that Petrino has mellowed out some since when he was at Arkansas previously and younger. Smith had a quick reply to that.

“Not at all, not at all, not at all,” Smith said. “That fire would never leave, that’s who he is. That’s how he’s been able to coach for a long time at a high level and have some of the best offenses in the country and how some of the best players really shine under him. You don’t want that passion to go away.”

Smith also talked about how the adjustment has been going from the NFL to back coaching college.

“It’s been pretty smooth,” Smith said. “I get here early in the morning and I leave late at night. So, same schedule.”

A drill on Thursday saw Smith using basketballs. He explained what that was all about.

“I usually have soccer balls but we didn’t have them available today,” Smiths said. “What we’re doing is we’re working on closing the space between the blitzer and myself (the running back). Then from there we’re working on mirroring the defender so that we are keeping a great base, where we’re staying inside out. That’s just a starting point of the of blitz pickup of pass pro. That was the beginning stage of it.”

Smith also reflected back on how Petrino’s offense has evolved through the years.

“More so, how we call plays,” Smith said. “It’s more of a word system than a digit system like it was in the past. So, that’s the learning I have to catch up on and grow in and just adapt so everything can be running smoothly come fall.

Fouch also gave insight into how he feels Petrino’s offense has evolved through the years.

“It’s definitely evolved since Coach Smith played in it,” Fouch said. “The same plays are still there, but just some new stuff’s been added over the years. So, we just all keep growing with it. We always stick to the same base of the offense, but there’s always new stuff that we love to put in so.”

Arkansas will hold a scrimmage open to the public on Saturday morning at 9 a.m.

Fans wishing to attend Saturday’s open practice can park in Lot 44 (north of the stadium) for free and enter Gate 14 on the northeast side of the stadium beginning at 8:30 a.m. Fan seating will be located on the east side of the stadium only. No concession stands will be open but outside food and drinks will be allowed.

(Last updated: 2024-03-28 12:37 PM)